Bull­dogs sign top prospect Roberts from Owen Sound

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - TERI PECOSKIE

It’s of­fi­cial.

The Hamil­ton Bull­dogs have signed top prospect Con­nor Roberts. The 16-year-old from Owen Sound was the club’s first-round se­lec­tion, third over­all, at this year’s On­tario Hockey League draft.

Pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager Steve Staios said the Bull­dogs are happy to have him on board — even if the deal was a bit of a for­mal­ity.

He also lauded the six­foot-three, 209-pound cen­tre’s char­ac­ter.

“Get­ting past the player and the phys­i­cal spec­i­men he is at such a young age,” Roberts is a re­ally good per­son who’s pas­sion­ate about playing hockey, he said. “When you look at philo­soph­i­cally what we’re try­ing to cre­ate here, he re­ally fits that mould.”

Staios wouldn’t pre­dict how Roberts will fit into Hamil­ton’s lineup this sea­son. It’s too early to know. The club un­der­stands how de­vel­op­ment works for young players and “will err on the side of pa­tience,” he said — at least un­til he starts to build con­fi­dence. “And we won’t get our­selves con­cerned with point to­tals and things like that.” That said, if Roberts comes to train­ing camp and “blows our doors off and we sense that he’s ready to be an im­pact­ful player im­me­di­ately, he’ll earn that po­si­tion,” Staios added.

Roberts notched 39 points in 28 games last sea­son as cap­tain of the mi­nor midget Grey-Bruce High­landers.

He couldn’t be reached for com­ment Tues­day — he was on a flight to Cal­gary, where he’s tak­ing part in Hockey Canada’s un­der-17 de­vel­op­ment camp.

In ad­di­tion to Roberts, the Bull­dogs also signed goal­tender Cole Ceci late last week. The Orleans na­tive, a 10th-round pick in 2014, spent last sea­son with the club’s Jr. A af­fil­i­ate An­caster Avalanche.

“This gives us depth at the most im­por­tant po­si­tion,” Staios said. He also noted the 18-year-old — who will be bat­tling re­turn­ing puck­stop­pers Con­nor Hicks and Kaden Fulcher for a per­ma­nent spot on the ros­ter — “per­formed too well for us not to bring in the mix.”

In 32 reg­u­lar sea­son games, Ceci posted a 2.57 GAA and .921 save per­cent­age. He also ap­peared in 10 play­off matches for An­caster, in­clud­ing an 85-save per­for­mance against the St. Catharines Fal­cons that coaches Troy Smith and Ron Wil­son and scout Matt Turek were on hand to watch. NOTES: Four Bull­dogs have made Cen­tral Scout­ing’s fu­tures list for the 2017 NHL draft — goalie Kaden Fulcher and for­wards Macken­zie En­twistle, Matthew Strome and Mar­ian Stu­denic. The list con­sists of 290 North Amer­i­can and in­ter­na­tional draft-el­i­gi­ble prospects that NHL scouts will be watch­ing in the up­com­ing sea­son ... Bull­dogs pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager Steve Staios said he ex­pects to an­nounce the club’s new ra­dio broad­cast­ing agree­ment within the next two weeks. Its pre­vi­ous deal with AM900 CHML ex­pired in June.

GARY YOKOYAMA, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Con­nor Roberts was Hamil­ton’s first-round se­lec­tion, third over­all, at the OHL draft.

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